Cuban Art News Roundtable 2013

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As the New Year moves into February, the team at Cuban Art News thinks it is an interesting moment to look ahead to the rest of 2013 to see “what it might hold for Cuban art, both on the island and elsewhere.” They assembled a roundtable of experts to weigh in on what they foresee. In Part 2, individual artists and the international art market are lively topics of discussion, followed by a look ahead to exhibitions, projects, and events in the months ahead.

Contributors are Marysol Nieves, vice president and specialist in Latin American Art at Christie’s, New York; Margarita González Lorente, deputy director of the Wifredo Lam Center, Havana, organizers of the Havana Biennial; Robert Borlenghi, president of Pan American Art Projects, Miami; Corina Matamoros, curator of contemporary Cuban art at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana; Elvis Fuentes, art historian and curator of Caribbean: Crossroads of the World, presented at three New York museums in 2012; and Howard Farber, collector of contemporary Cuban art, co-founder of The Farber Foundation, and publisher of Cuban Art News. Here are excerpts of the interview followed by links to Part 1 and 2.

In your estimation, which Cuban artists are generating the most interest in the international art market? Why?

Corina Matamoros: Among those contemporary artists I know as a Museo Nacional curator, I think that Los Carpinteros, Carlos Garaicoa, Kcho, José Toirac, Sandra Ramos, and Abel Barroso have demonstrated strong and well-deserved positioning in the international market. [. . .]

Robert Borlenghi: The artists who show the greatest promise for acceptability in the international market are those who develop their work on the foundation of study and research, who are more conceptual in their approach, and who tell a story of greater universal appeal. Again, among these are Tania Bruguera, Yoan Capote, Ricardo Brey, José Toirac, and Alexandre Arrechea. It is my opinion that for Cuban artists to be more recognized internationally, they must become less “Cuban.”

Howard Farber: Contemporary artists such as Carlos Garaicoa, Yoan Capote, Los Carpinteros, Armando Mariño, Alexandre Arrechea, and Carlos Estévez are making significant inroads on a worldwide basis, and this helps lift awareness of all Cuban artists. [. . .]

Elvis Fuentes, curator: I think there are parallel worlds of art, and it is clear that many Cuban artists have a strong presence in those worlds and are having success in their careers. My overall impression is that women are leading in a way never seen before. Think of Carmen Herrera, whose newly discovered freshness in pioneering abstraction has amazed both European and American audiences. We are yet to see the rediscovery of Antonia Eiriz, a giant of the 1960s. Ana Mendieta has secured a central place in the international canon, similar to what Magdalena Campos-Pons is doing within the African-American canon from Boston. Also, Tania Bruguera is having great acceptance in the U.S. institutional world now that she is realizing more projects here. She had been more focused in Europe, but the retrospective in the Neuberger Museum, in upstate New York, opened new opportunities for her, especially in New York. Teresita Fernández is now advising Obama, and she definitely already has a strong career. To what point this new experience will change her is something that will be interesting to see.

Then there are other younger artists like Jeannette Chávez and Glenda León, whose careers are developing mostly in Europe, but will surely enter the U.S. art world at some point. Another artist who has gained in visibility is Alexandre Arrechea, especially in the art market. [. . .] Carlos Garaicoa is definitely strong, and his work has showed so many interesting angles that I think he will have much more to say in the coming years. And time will reward José A. Vincench and Sandra Ceballos.

In Miami, Ernesto Oroza is now collaborating with Gean Moreno, and the result is very engaging. But Miami’s growing visibility has not translated into more visibility for great local artists. I hope it will. There, George Sánchez-Calderón is someone of interest. Of course there are many of the now old guard, like José Bedia, who is a powerhouse in Miami. Others have been able to reinvent themselves, like Consuelo Castañeda and Glexis Novoa. And some artists in other places have gained recognition, like Luis Cruz Azaceta in New Orleans and Alejandro Aguilera in Atlanta. Some younger artists have real potential for transcending their local milieu. I am thinking of Iván Abreu in Mexico and Adrian Melis now in Spain. Melis was in Cuba until recently, and many of these artists I mentioned have a presence in Cuba as well.

Since I’ve returned to Cuba only for a short visit in 2009, I am not aware of who has great potential on the island. I remember the work of Pável Acosta, Harold Vázquez, and Carlos Caballero, and a striking work by Linet Sánchez, but I believe she has done little since. It must be extremely difficult to produce art right now, especially for a woman. Cuban art is still a male-dominated business, just like everywhere else. [. . .]

Image above: María Magdalena Campos-Pons’ 2002 “Study for Elevata” (Courtesy The Farber Collection)

For Part I, see http://www.cubanartnews.org/news/en/33-cuban-art-roundtable-2013-part-1-artmaking-and-collecting-trends

For full article and interview, see http://www.cubanartnews.org/news/en/40-cuban-art-news-roundtable-2013-part-2-artists-and-events

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